A core group of approximately 30 people works the oyster farm at Drakes Estero (with spouses and children, the total that will be affected is about 70 people). All but one of the workers are Mexican. Half of the workers and their families live at the oyster farm, and most of the others, with their families, live on the surrounding ranches.
For generations these families have been caring for the oyster beds at Drakes Estero. Due in great part to their excellent stewardship of the Estero, Drakes is known as one of the healthiest estuarine systems in the country. Additionally, the workers have developed specialized skill sets including the “Hanging cultch” rack method of cultivation particular to Drakes Estero, as well as skills based on the cannery.
The dEIS did not consider the historical and cultural value of the oyster farm nor the women of the oyster farm, who’s spouses, many of whom, work on the surrounding ranches and in the nearby dairies.
Should the oyster farm be removed, the workers will not only lose their jobs, but also they will have to pick up their families, and move to Oregon or Washington to look for work, if it is available, since Drakes Bay Oyster Company is the sole remaining oyster cannery in California. Should they choose to remain in Marin County, they will likely have to look for unskilled jobs paying far less. Furthermore, in that many of the spouses of the DBOC workers are employed by the surrounding ranches, if the DBOC wokers lose their jobs, the ranches will lose their employees as well.
Their children are enrolled in our schools, their families attend our churches, and they are a significant part of the social fabric of our small community of approximately 1500.
Being isolated from the rest of the county, our area is also known as West Marin. Rather than look at the community itself, the dEIS includes the entirety of Marin County. As you can see from the map on page 216 in the dEIS, the majority of the population of Marin County is centered along the 101 corridor.
Drakes Estero is
- 29.26 miles from Terra Linda (via Lucas Valley Road)
- 27.103 from Novato, via Novato Blvd.
- 26.721 miles from San Rafael, via Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
- 23.8 miles from Fairfax, at the west border of the core of the county’s population west of San Rafael, via Sir Francis Drake Blvd.)
West Marin is serviced twice a day eastbound (6:30 and 9:35 AM), and twice a day westbound (3:13 and 6:30 PM) by the West Marin Stage Coach. Even so, the coach terminates in the west end in Inverness, 5.56 miles away from Drakes Estero and in the east at the transit center in San Rafael. Transit time is 82 minutes – 1.36 hours one way. Add another 10 minutes to get to or from the estero and a one-way travel is 1.75 hours.
The core population to the west of highway 101 extends westward by less than 4 miles. In between the core of the population of Marin county and the estero are miles and miles of ranches, dairies and farms.
Upon arriving at Point Reyes Station, to get to the oyster farm, one has to pass through town and head south around the southern end of Tomales bay, then travel north and west approximately another 8 miles for Drakes Estero is further isolated from Point Reyes Station by Tomales Bay.
Economically, DBOC contributes approximately $350,000.00 a year in sales tax alone. When you consider payroll taxes, permits, rents, etc. the operation contributes at least $500,000.00 to state, local and federal income annually.
Marin County has a population of 252,409 (as of 2010 census) whereas Point Reyes and Inverness combined, boasts a population of approximately 1,500 (although the road-sign as one enters Point Reyes still boasts “Population 350” – perhaps that is discounting those who do not live here full time but only own vacation homes here).
Strangely, the dEIS does not even consider Mexicans, Latinos, or Hispanics minorities. (See table 3-6 on page 215 of the dEIS). Listed are only the following:
- Black 3.2(% in Marin county) 6.2 (% in California)
- American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 (% in Marin county) 0.8 (% in California)
- Asian 5.7 (% in Marin county) 12.3 (% in California)
- Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0.2 (% in Marin county) 0.4 (% in California)
- Some other race 6.9 (% in Marin county) 15.5 (% in California)
- Two or more races 2.2 3.5
- Total minority 18.6 38.7
The California Historical Society appreciates the oyster farm and its worker’s historical and cultural value. From October 27, 2011 to January 19, 2012, the California Historical Society is hosting the exhibit “Oyster Farm”, featuring the documentary photography of artist Evvy Eisen.
To find out more about the exhibit, go to www.californiahistoricalsociety.org
To view the Evvy Eisen’ photos, go to http://oysterfarmphotos.com/